For Better or for Worse: The Marriage of Science and Government in the United States

By Alfred K. Mann | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 1
Introduction

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a Democratic congress won control of the federal government of the United States in 1932, a controversial new view of how federal influence and money might be used to change American society was also inaugurated. The active role of the federal government in pursuit of that view led to the creation of many federal agencies in the quarter century between 1932 and 1957 and brought about a very different nation than had existed previously. With the approval of the American public, that view is still firmly in place sixty-five years later, but controversy continues over how widely it should be extended and precisely how it should be implemented.

One far-reaching change that came about during World War I1 was an increase in government involvement in scientific research. This area was largely left to the private sector of the United States before the war, apart from certain special developments that were the result of patient, determined pressure from forward-looking private citizens. For example, soon after the first powered airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, the enormous potential of aviation required an agency to coordinate research and development and advise the government on progress in aviation. After years of prod

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